Car Time Is the New Quality Time—Here’s What a Road Trip Taught Me About Mom Friendship

Snacks optional

cars and conversation friendship rule mobile

It was just the invite I needed: 24 hours away with a dear friend whose company I treasure. We both had our first babies at the same time, navigated the bumps of new parenthood at the same time and watched our post-kids availability dwindle at the same time.

Motherhood is hard, right? The sacrifices are real. But here’s what I didn’t know going into the weekend, ahead of our jaunt to the Connecticut countryside for peace, quiet and, OK, a glass or two of wine. I actually don’t need a full itinerary of spa treatments and dinner reservations for a quality catch-up with my pal.

It’s more simple than that: We just need time together in the car.

Don’t get me wrong, it helps if it’s a nice car. (We were fortunate to drive the 2023 Lincoln Corsair, which is a literal sanctuary on the road in SUV form.) But my realization that car time is the new quality time—and an easy rule or requisite for maintaining a natural mom friendship—hit me the minute I waved goodbye to my five-year-old and dialed my friend to say I was en route: We’re our most authentic selves on the road.

No Moana and Encanto songs for this drive. As I barreled down the highway, I could feel my formerly kid-free identity coming back. I cranked Taylor Swift and ABBA and, OK, the Hamilton soundtrack and relished the judgment-free zone as I made my way to see my pal. Once together, there was good food (gummy bears, of course) and podcast recommendations. More tunes, but mostly just good and pressure-free conversation.

Here’s why: There’s something therapeutic about a long drive and eyes fixed straight ahead on the road. It made me think of the beauty of the “walk and talk” catch-up—how research shows that it’s less stressful to talk with someone side-by-side (for example, driver’s seat next to passenger seat) and with minimal eye contact than conversing face-to-face.

In the car—especially a vehicle like the Corsair which offers uninterrupted windshield views and an interior that almost feels soundproof to the outside world—it was easy for our thoughts to meander. We could cover everything from our marriage to our motherhood burdens to ourselves with intimacy brought on by just the right amount of distraction (say, a navigational question or a quick interruption to make a Spotify playlist change).

As we tooled around, even just in the parking lot of our hotel, I flashed back to several equally therapeutic moments with my friend that—much like this—took place in the car. A pandemic drive around Brooklyn one night when we both just needed a break from the bedtime routine. A trip to the airport ahead of a 40th birthday escape. Heck, I’d even voluntarily joined her in the car on a few different occasions just to keep her company while she searched for street parking. Every time, the quality time together was real.

All this goes to show that sometimes we can give ourselves permission to stress less about firming up ambitious plans to see each other. Instead, take this as a reminder that even mundane moments—like running a quick and kid-free errand in the car—can accomplish the same goal. Quality time = unlocked.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...